Don’t you agree that, on one’s first visit to Florence, one must have a room with a view?A Room With a View, E.M. Forster
Whilst Arno-facing hotel rooms may be in short supply, the so-called Cradle of the Renaissance has plenty of accommodation to rival Pensione Bertolini in A Room With a View.
But which are the best areas of Florence in which to stay?
This is where I can help. I have visited Florence on multiple occasions, and am able to share first-hand knowledge of its districts.
Discover where to stay in Florence with this lowdown on its neighbourhoods, to whom they are best suited and Florence accommodation options. From solo travellers to families, luxury to budget travellers, I’ve got you covered.
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Where to Stay in Florence: The Bottom Line
Let’s cut to the chase. If you are in a hurry, here are my recommended places to stay in Florence.
Drum roll please.
- Luxury hotel in Florence – Hotel Lungarno
- Mid-range hotel in Florence – Hotel Globus
- Budget hotel in Florence – Guest House Bel Duomo
- Hotel for solo travellers in Florence – Hotel Davanzati
- Recommended apartment in Florence – F1RST Suite Apartment & SPA
Florence Neighbourhoods at a Glance
This is one of the easiest cities in Italy to navigate.
Many of Florence’s most popular landmarks lie on the north bank of the River Arno, within walking distance of the iconic dome of the cathedral (Duomo). Everything is within a 20-minute walk from the cathedral, Santa Maria Novella train station or the Ponte Vecchio.
Here are the neighbourhoods of Florence I recommend, based on how you roll travel-wise.
- Where to stay in Florence for the first time – Historic core
- Best area of Florence for day-trippers – Santa Maria Novella
- Where to stay in Florence on a budget – San Lorenzo & San Marco
- Best area of Florence for nightlife – Santa Croce
- Where to stay in Florence for families – Sant-Ambrogio
- Best area of Florence for local vibes – Oltrarno
- Visiting Florence with a car – Fiesole
Where you stay in Florence is likely to be determined by the personality of the area and your budget. Each neighbourhood has its own vibe and price tag. It’s just a case of picking the one that’s right for you.
But don’t overthink it. The city centre is small and many of these neighbourhoods overlap.
Recommended Accommodation in Florence
Let me be transparent. I have not stayed in all of these recommended hotels and apartments. Clearly, this would be impossible for a single traveller
I have based my accommodation recommendations on my knowledge of these neighbourhoods, gained through multiple visits, and through researching reviews across more than one platform.
I’ve done the legwork so you don’t have to.
In choosing these places to stay in Florence, I have taken the same care as if I was booking accommodation for myself.
Florence has some exceptionally beautiful hotels, some of which are in former palazzi. Some of these are exceptionally pricey.
But as one of the most expensive cities to stay in Tuscany, budget accommodation options are thin on the ground. It can be a struggle to find somewhere decent that isn’t a hostel for less than £100 a night.
In my experience, you may be able to get more bang for your buck by renting an apartment.
To help you pick places to suit your budget, I have grouped these Florence accommodation choices into three price categories:
|£££||> £200 per night|
|££||£100 – £200 per night|
|£||< £100 per night|
As prices can fluctuate by season and day of the week, check the latest room rates online.
One of the disadvantages of travelling alone is that solo travellers pay more for their accommodation. Where available, I have indicated which of these hotel choices offer single rooms.
READ THIS NEXT: 10 Factors You Cannot Ignore When Choosing a Hotel
Best Areas to Stay in Florence
Let’s dive into the best areas to stay in Florence.
1. Historic core (Piazza della Signoria and Duomo): The best area to stay in Florence for the first-time visitor
The iconic dome of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is at the heart of the city’s historic core and of most people’s Florence itinerary. From here, it’s a short walk to Piazza della Signoria, home to some of the best statues in Florence, Palazzo Vecchio’s skyscraping tower, the Uffizi Galleries and the Ponte Vecchio.
This is ground zero of the Renaissance and home to the city’s main attractions.
Florence’s historic core is also tourist-central with plenty of shops, bars, restaurants and accommodation.
Staying in this uber-central location comes at a premium and expect prices to be higher than in other areas of Florence.
PLACES TO STAY IN FLORENCE’S HISTORIC CORE
Splurge (£££) – Hotel Spadai
Located on a pedestrian-only street two minutes from Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral, Hotel Spadai has garnered stellar reviews. Choose your room according to your budget, from a relatively modest double room to a swanky suite.
Mid-range (££) – Hotel Davanzati
Located a stone’s throw from the Uffizi Galleries, home to many of Florence’s best paintings, this is an excellent choice for a mid-range hotel in Florence. This small 3-star property offers air-conditioned rooms, including a single room for solo travellers.
Budget (£) – Guest House Bel Duomo
Run by an English-Italian family this 3-star guest house offers air-conditioned rooms in the heart of Florence’s historic centre. Upgrade to a room with a balcony for a sensational view of Brunelleschi’s dome.
2. Santa Maria Novella: The best area to stay in Florence for day trips by train
West of the Duomo is Florence’s Santa Maria Novella neighbourhood, home to its main train station. It will take you around ten minutes to walk from here to the cathedral.
Across the road from the train station is the Dominican Church of Santa Maria Novella, Florence’s first great basilica and home to important works of art. Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy is close by as is Chiesa di Ognissanti, the final resting place of Botticelli
Santa Maria Novella district has a clutch of less touristy eateries and a smart shopping zone towards the river.
This is where to stay in Florence if you are planning to use the city as a base to explore other towns and cities in Tuscany.
Accommodation is less expensive than that closer to the cathedral and Piazza della Signoria. As the immediate area around the station can verge on the chaotic – and edgy – at times, try to pick a hotel closer to the Arno River.
SANTA MARIA NOVELLA ACCOMMODATION CHOICES
Splurge (£££) – Casa Howard Firenze – Residenza d’Epoca
This boutique hotel located in the right part of Santa Maria Novella offers rooms with original décor and antique furnishings. It’s reportedly quiet, considering its location, and provides first-class service.
Mid-range (££) – Residenza d’Epoca Palazzo Riblet
This family-run 3-star hotel is located on the first floor of a stately sixteenth-century palazzo. Its modest soundproofed rooms have a kettle and a fridge.
Budget (£) – La Porta del Paradiso
La Porta del Paradiso is an excellent choice, close to the bars and restaurants in Santa Maria Novella. Rooms are spacious and there’s a bargain single room for those travelling alone.
3. San Lorenzo and San Marco: Where to stay in Florence on a budget
Heading north from the Duomo you’ll find two lively adjoining neighbourhoods: San Marco to the east and San Lorenzo to the west.
You can look Michelangelo’s David squarely in the eye at the Accademia, and marvel at the finest collection of frescoes by the early Renaissance master Fra Angelico at the Museum of San Marco.
The immense Basilica of San Lorenzo is the final resting place of the principal members of the mighty Medici family, and the adjacent Medici Chapels contain more outstanding Michelangelo works, his tomb sculptures.
As these areas offer some of the cheapest accommodation in town, this is where to stay in Florence if you are on a budget. It is also a ripe hunting ground for family-run restaurants.
WHERE TO STAY IN FLORENCE’S SAN LORENZO & SAN MARCO DISTRICTS
Splurge (£££) – Solo Experience Hotel
Not, as its name might suggest, a hotel for solo travellers in Florence. Instead, this 4-star hotel set in a 17th Century building offers a range of rooms, some of which feature views of Piazza San Lorenzo.
Mid-range (££) – Hotel Globus
A modern 4-star hotel that is just a few steps from the Church of San Lorenzo and a 5-minute walk from Santa Maria Novella train station. Keenly priced single rooms are available and reviews are very good.
Budget (£) – B&B Lorenzo de’ Medici
This 3-star bed and breakfast on the doorstep of Mercato Central has attracted rave reviews. It offers a range of rooms, including a spacious single room.
4. Santa Croce: The best area of Florence to stay for lively nightlife
The Church of Santa Croce is a ten-minute walk east of the Palazzo Vecchio.
Occupying one side of the massive Piazza Santa Croce, this 14th Century Franciscan church houses the tombs of the great and the good of Florence, including Michelangelo, Dante, Galileo, Machiavelli and Rossini. Close by is the Bargello Museum, whose collection includes some of the finest sculptures ever created.
Despite its proximity to the Piazza dell Signoria, Santa Croce has a local – and student – vibe. As this neighbourhood is lively by day and night, it is probably best suited to younger travellers (and those not wishing to have an early night).
HOTELS & APARTMENTS IN SANTA CROCE
Splurge (£££) – Maison du Sage
Just a few steps from Santa Croce Basilica, this 4-star hotel offers spacious rooms with elegant décor. Nespresso machines are available for your in-room caffeine hit.
Mid-range (££) – F1RST Suite Apartment & SPA
Sometimes you cannot beat staying in an apartment, both in terms of independence and value for money. This superb-looking apartment in the shadow of Santa Croce features a washing machine, and hot tub in which to soak those aching limbs after a busy day seeing the sights of Florence.
Budget (£) – Sweet Home In Santa Croce
This is another Santa Croce apartment option in a good location midway between Santa Croce Basilica and the Bargello. This spacious self-catering option in Florence has a washing machine and dishwasher.
5. Sant’Ambrogio: The best area to stay in Florence for families
To the east of Santa Croce is one of Florence’s most colourful neighbourhoods, Sant’ Ambrogio.
This area is home to Florence’s most famous flea market, where you can buy all types of rubbish that you never thought you needed, and the city’s oldest Jewish Synagogue, Tempio Maggiore of Florence. There’s also the Baroque church of Sant’ Ambrogio which contains fine frescoes by Orcagna and Baldovinetti.
Sant’ Ambrogio has a relatively calm atmosphere and accommodation to suit all budgets, making it a good area to stay in Florence with a family.
ACCOMMODATION CHOICES IN SANT’AMBROGIO
Splurge (£££) – Hotel Regency
One of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, this is one of my priciest Florence accommodation recommendations. Facing parkland on one side and a historic square on the other side, this 5-star hotel offers high-quality rooms in peaceful yet central surroundings.
Mid-range (££) – Florence Charming Apartments – Via Macci, 59
These sunny apartments close to Sant’Ambrogio Market feature a washing machine and inner courtyard views. Reviews are excellent.
Budget (£) – Apartments Puccini
Located just 50 yards from Sant’Ambrogio Market, these split-level apartments accommodate a maximum of four adults. There’s also a terrace on which to sip your Chianti in the evening.
6. The Oltrarno: The best neighbourhood to stay in Florence for authentic food and local vibes
Literally the “other side of the Arno River”, the Oltrarano is the Florence that tourism forgot. From the summits of its chain of hills squeezed against the Arno, there are the best views in town.
Starting at the “wrong” end of the Ponte Vecchio, this authentic neighbourhood stretches south to the Pitti Palace (one of Europe’s most magnificent palaces). To the west is the Santa Spirito district, and high up on the hill to the east of the Palazzo Pitti is Piazzale Michelangelo.
Artisan worships sit cheek-by-jowl with some of Florence’s finest eateries.
Relive the splendour of the Medici family at Palazzo Pitti and view the hand of Brunelleschi inside Basilica di Santo Spirito. For a Renaissance masterclass, visit the Brancacci Chapel at Santa Maria del Carmine, famous for its Masaccio fresco cycle.
Although the Oltrarno is much quieter than the more touristy neighbourhoods across the river, it is far from dull. This is one of the best areas to stay in Florence to hang out with the locals and eat at superb restaurants.
WHERE TO STAY IN THE OLTRARNO NEIGHBOURHOOD
Splurge (£££) – Hotel Lungarno – Lungarno Collection
If you’ve ever dreamt of having a Room with a View – my favourite of the many movies set in Italy – then book a room at this 5-star hotel on the south side of the Arno River. Home to a Michelin-starred restaurant, Hotel Lungarno offers elegant rooms, the most expensive of which overlook the river.
Mid-range (££) – Geppi’s Apartments
These spacious apartments hugging the Arno River have attracted stellar reviews. The location, close to Pitti Palace, Basilica di Santo Spirito and Ponte Vecchio is hard to beat.
Budget (£) – B&Beatrice
Set in a historic building close to Palazzo Pitti, this well-reviewed bed & breakfast offers cosy double and twin rooms and a one-bedroom apartment.
7. Fiesole: Where to stay in Florence with a car
Florence lies in a valley surrounded by a number of hills that include Fiesole, Bellosguardo, Scandici and Settignano.
There are Roman ruins at Fiesole and a villa that belonged to the Medici at Poggio Imperiale. And it is from these hills that you get the finest panoramic views of Florence.
The narrow streets of the historic centre of Florence weren’t made for cars, but parking is not a problem if you stay in one of the hotels in the Florence Hills.
The first time I visited Florence, I stayed at the YHA Hostel of Florence Villa Camerata near Fiesole. Whilst I needed to catch a bus into Florence, the setting and ambience were unbeatable.
RECOMMENDED ACCOMMODATION CHOICES IN FIESOLE
Splurge (£££) – Villa San Michele
For the ultimate splurge in Florence, book a room at this 5-star hotel. A bonus is the complimentary shuttle service from the hotel to Piazza della Repubblica in the city centre.
Mid-range (££) – Agriturismo Villa Di Campolungo
Are you looking for an agriturismo near Florence? Surrounded by olive groves, this elegant country estate is your ultimate Tuscan dream fulfilment. There’s even handmade soap made from the villa’s own olive oil in your bathroom.
Budget (£) – Residence Fiesole
This aparthotel is a superb budget option in the centre of Fiesole. It offers a range of apartments and the local bus service will take you directly to Piazza San Marco.
Where Should a Solo Traveller Stay in Florence?
Safety is a key priority of solo travellers, especially those who are travelling alone for the first time. Florence is a small and relatively safe city, helped by the fact that residents still live in the centre and the large visitor numbers
But is there a particular area or neighbourhood of Florence that is safer than others?
I have stayed in the historic centre as a female solo traveller more than once without any problems. But for extra reassurance, pick a place to stay in one of the more residential areas and avoid staying too close to the railway station.
Santa Croce, Sant’Ambrogio and the Oltrarno are good bets.
Although Florence is safe, like many cities in the world petty crime exists and pickpockets target tourist areas. A little bit of common sense goes a long way. Remain vigilant, keep your belongings close to you and use your hotel safe to store valuables.
Staying in Florence: Frequently Asked Questions
How many days do you need in Florence?
As a bare minimum, spend two days in Florence to explore its most popular sights including the Duomo, Uffizi Galleries, the Accademia Gallery and the Bargello.
But with three days in Florence, you will be able to visit some of the less touristy attractions and gain a deeper understanding of the city and its artistic and historical legacy.
Which is the best area to stay in Florence as a first-time visitor?
If you are visiting Florence for the first time, stay in its historic core, close to the Duomo and Palazzo Vecchio.
Is Florence a walkable city?
Florence is one of the best Italian cities to get around.
Nearly everything that you will want to see is within walking distance. With the notable exception of Piazzale Michelangelo, there are no hills to climb.
A Final Piece of Advice About Booking Accommodation in Florence
And that’s a wrap. I hope that this guide to the best neighbourhoods to stay in Florence will help you plan your trip like a pro.
I’ll leave you with a parting pearl of wisdom.
Don’t underestimate the popularity of Florence. Book well ahead if you are arriving in the peak summer season or if your visit coincides with one of the city’s major holidays or festivals (there are quite a few of them). That said, Florence can be busy at any time of year.